The Kloud manager Johan Thomsson reckons he has Kista's best job – and that the district has been impacted for too long by an outdated reputation. The former football talent leads the major investment into Kista, one that will revitalize the city and put it back on the map.
We meet Johan Thomsson in Kista Science Tower's entrance. It’s an impressive lobby space with an international feel. There is a friendly receptionist behind a counter and groups of people chatting in the lobby. It is noticeable that people are eager to meet up in the office again after two strange years. The photographer with us decides we should head outside to capture the nice winter sunlight, currently streaming through the glass facade. So out we venture, into Kista, Johan’s workplace.
It is time to update
According to Johan Thomsson, his job is the most fun and exciting in all of Kista. As CEO of joint venture company Kista Limitless, Johan leads and coordinates The Kloud’s change management. Its mission is to develop and activate Kista.
Johan plans to build on what is already working and change the things that are not. He wants to really make things happen, in a number of different ways. The starting position is good, he says.
“Kista has many strengths. It is one of the world's leading clusters for tech and telecom companies. It has the metro and commuter train – and soon the light rail,” explains Johan.
“We have a large and much-loved mall. There are homes, plenty of parking and all close to both nature and Stockholm city. But Kista has recent years. It does not work in the long run. Kista needs a reboot, to use the language of technology.”
We will make sure that things happen for real, so that Kista develops into an even better district for both people and companies
Clouds in constant change
The name The Kloud fits in a few different ways. Of course, much of the technology developed in Kista is in the digital cloud today. But above all, the name reflects the fact that Kista, like a cloud, is constantly moving forward, moving upward and changing.
“I usually say The Kloud is several things. It is Kista's engine of change that drives development forward. The Kloud is also Kista's voice, which communicates all the exciting things that are happening, and it is a community for those who want to be part of the journey of change. And there will be change. Kista won’t stand still again.”
Johan is originally from Gothenburg, which can be faintly heard in his accent. He has worked in different parts of the world, including Egypt and Kuwait, but has lived in Stockholm for many years. He previously worked with the establishment of Mall of Scandinavia and Lidl in Sweden. Johan’s experience in real estate, trade and urban development come in handy for his work with Kista and The Kloud. The goal is clear.
“Kista is a very divided district today, with housing west of the train tracks and the business area on the other side. This makes the business area feel dead and dull on evenings and weekends,” says Johan.
“We will transform Kista into a vibrant and wonderfully diverse district that attracts many more people to live, work, study and establish companies here.”
Heavy actors behind The Kloud
An important part of Kista’s update is to build more attractive homes. In total, the aim is to create 8,000 new homes and just as many new jobs. Of course, such a major investment requires support and resources. Behind Johan Thomsson and The Kloud are, among others, five of Kista’s largest property owners, Ericsson, universities and the City of Stockholm. The property owners have committed to invest more than SEK 20 billion in Kista until the year 2035. And many of the new homes are not even included in that figure.
“The Kloud collaboration is unique in its scope and power. There have been various types of collaboration in the past but never such a strong will to change and never with so much muscle behind it. We will make sure that things happen for real, so that Kista develops into an even better district for both people and companies,” Johan says.
Kista needs a reboot, to use the language of technology
Perseverance, timing and team spirit
The project’s success will require endurance and the ability to run with the ball, and at the right time. This Johan’s background as a football player will come in. It is a long time since he played football in New York but his skills from the game, like fighting spirit and tactical thinking, remain strong. As does his stubborn will to win. These will be key, along with a strong team spirit among all those working behind The Kloud. It will be an offensive game that ensures Kista wins the match.
“It is usually said that ‘action speaks louder than words’,” says Johan. “We will ensure positive action in Kista, both in the short and long term. The urban environment and architecture need updating, and the closed street plans should be opened up. We will mix housing, offices and services in completely different ways than before. The Kloud will also organise plenty of exciting activities – both on site and digitally. Kista must be heard and seen again.”
Set for a long match
Johan is aware there will be plenty of challenges along the way and that elements of the change work will take time. But the conditions have never been better, with a common vision and strong support.
“This is of course not a one-man show,” says Johan on the importance of teamwork. “My assignment is to lead and coordinate the work in The Kloud but everyone who wants to see Kista progress needs to get involved. This applies not only to property owners, tech companies and the municipality, but to everyone who lives, works or studies here today. To succeed, we must work together.”